The Ultimate Host Gift for Any Occasion
Summer is over and autumn is underway, which means one thing in the world of gatherings: holiday parties are coming. And while parties are often joyous and fun, one thing many people struggle with is the host gift. Do you need to bring one? How much money should you spend on it? How do you know what the gift should be?
To help take the guessing out of host gift giving, we spoke with etiquette and party experts to answer all the big questions. We also came up with a few fail-proof gift ideas to add to your arsenal. Most important? “Have fun! Bring something they haven’t tried before. Don’t be afraid to get funky,” says chef and food stylist Romilly Newman. “Something that’s useful, but not too practical.”
“When and why do I need to bring a host gift?”
According to etiquette experts, you should bring a gift anytime someone invites you into their home. As anyone who has ever had a party in their home knows, hosting requires a lot of effort. Giving a gift is a thoughtful way to show your appreciation. “If I’m going to someone’s house for dinner, I always bring a gift. Hosting is a lot of work!” says Newman.
Etiquette expert Myka Meier, founder of Beaumont Etiquette, agrees. “I recommend never showing up empty handed,” she says. “A host gift should be given whenever someone is hosting you at their home for any reason. It’s a sign of gratitude to the person for inviting and hosting you.”
“How much money should I spend on my gift?”
While it’s definitely the gesture that matters most here—and a gift that shows you put thought and care into it can definitely go a long way—in general, it’s a good idea to think about how much you can spend on a gift and note that different circumstances may necessitate different spending amounts.
“For me, it’s more about matching the host gift to the occasion, how long I’m being hosted for, and if I’m alone or with my family,” explains Meier. “For example, if someone invites me over for a dinner party versus an entire weekend at their home with my entire family, I will gift very differently. Overall, thoughtful gifts always leave a lasting impression.”
Newman suggests first thinking about a thoughtful gift and dealing with the money part after. “I tend to focus on what suits the host and will spark excitement, then I compare prices,” she says.
“What makes a good, versatile host gift that works for multiple occasions?”
The key to a good gift is something you think the host would enjoy, explains Meier. “I also think a gift that has a good story makes an excellent host gift. For example, if you just visited Italy and then brought a bottle you enjoyed most from that very vineyard—it’s a great conversation starter and a thoughtful gift,” she adds.
For Cabernet lovers, a beautiful Super Tuscan is a shoo in—whether you’ve been to Italy recently or not. Castello Banfi Cum Laude Toscana IGT is an intentional blend of Cabernet, Merlot, Sangiovese and Syrah from Montalcino in Southern Tuscany. This wine tastes of red fruits with intense cherry tones, complimented by spicy licorice and pepper. It pairs great with soup, grilled veggies, and both red and white meats, making it a versatile choice for most dinner parties.
To boost your wine gift to the next level, consider adding on some accessories. For a complete wine experience, this 7-piece wine system set includes an electric corkscrew, vacuum bottle stopper, and dispenser and aerator. A crystal decanter or set of glasses make an elegant gift on their own or with a bottle of wine.
Meier agrees, adding, “Depending on what occasion you were gifting, you could include a gorgeous wine opener, wine glasses, a wine decanter, an ice bucket (monogrammed for a special occasion), a wine serving cloth, a cheese pairing, a book about a certain region of wine that you have brought, or a wine stopper.”
“How should I wrap my gift?”
Giftwrapping always adds an extra layer of festivity and prettiness, showing you went you went the extra step for your host. Wrapping a non-wine bottle gift is pretty easy—usually a nice bag, box, or gift wrap works well. But bottles present an odd shape. “I typically recommend a bow, ribbon, or gift tag wrapped around the neck of the bottle,” suggests Meier.
Newman agrees. “I like a ribbon tied into a bow, but no wrapping! Let the bottle shine.”
“Is there proper etiquette for gifting wine?”
Like most gifts, there are a few things to think about when gifting wine to your host. Of course, you want to consider if your host enjoys wine, and if you know what type. You also want to ensure that the host knows they don’t need to serve it right then. “If you’re bringing wine for a dinner party, it’s important not to make the host feel pressured to open the bottle that same evening. If they have planned a dinner party, they have likely already planned all the courses and wine pairings for that evening,” says Meier. “If you present your bottle and appear to expect it to be served that evening, it may clash with the meal the host has prepared. Instead, you could hand it to the host and say, ‘A special treat I thought you’d enjoy,’ or similar, to show it’s their choice when to serve it.”